EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Kevin Seifert thinks the Vikings are in good hands with quarterback Sam Bradford.
The ESPN.com writer recently sat down with Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com to talk about a variety of topics as Minnesota's offseason ramps up.
Seifert said the combination of Bradford's steady play and a stout defense could set up the Vikings nicely for the 2017 season.
"I think Sam Bradford is good enough to be a quarterback on a Super Bowl-winning team," Seifert said. "That's not the same as saying he can take a team to the Super Bowl … but I think he's good enough (to get there).
"Certainly what they have around him speaks to a pretty balanced team," Seifert added.
Bradford, who started 15 games, threw for 3,877 yards with 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also set an NFL record with a 71.6 completion percentage.
Beyond the stats, Seifert said he was impressed by Bradford's durability and toughness during his first season in Purple.
"He was able to play probably through a lot of a nagging things that showed he was not the China doll persona that some people had created for him," Seifert said. "When he's missed time, it's been a serious and significant injury … (a torn) ACL, nobody plays with that.
"I think he definitely showed he can be tough, take hits and keep playing," Seifert added. "I think back to the Packers game (in Week 2) with his hand, it's swelling up on live TV."
Bradford meshed well with Pat Shurmur after Shurmur stepped into the role of interim offensive coordinator midway through the season, but Seifert said he expects even more production from the Vikings offense going forward.
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"I think they'll try to open it up a little bit," Seifert said. "I don't know that Pat Shurmur or Sam Bradford are the gun-slinging type people that will look to throw the ball all over the field, but there's going to be a fair bit of ball control passing … that's my educated guess.
"I don't see them making a dramatic transfer, but it will be really interesting and important to find out if the reason they were so focused on the short-yardage passing game this year was out of necessity or whether that was personal style," Seifert said.
As for the other side of the ball, Minnesota's defense finished the season ranked third in total yards allowed per game (314.9) and was sixth in allowing just 19.2 points per game.
Of the 307 points allowed by the Vikings, 62 of them came in a Week 15 loss to the Colts and in the first half of a loss in Green Bay in Week 16.
In short, 20 percent of the points Minnesota allowed happen in a six-quarter span. Take away that stretch and the Vikings had the top scoring defense in the NFL.
Seifert said he has very little concern about a Vikings defense that held opponents to 17 points or less nine times and has top-tier players scattered throughout the unit.
"From a talent perspective, they have what they need," Seifert said. "Every team wants to add more pass rushers and speed and playmakers, but when you take a step back and look at the rest of the league and see the holes other defenses have, the Vikings have depth with high draft picks and are using them as starters.
"They potentially lose Chad Greenway, but for the most part guys are coming back," Seifert added. "They're all in their prime … they can be the defense they showed in the beginning of last year compared to that six-quarter stretch. They need to correct that, but we saw enough of a picture to think otherwise."
The first big event of the offseason occurs next week in Alabama with the Senior Bowl. Then comes the NFL Scouting Combine, free agency and collegiate pro days as teams prepare for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Seifert said he expects the Vikings to target an offensive lineman or two this offseason. The Vikings surrendered 38 sacks and ranked at the bottom of the league in total rushing yards (1,205) and yards per carry (3.2).
"How will they make it better? Just to find one or two offensive linemen is a productive offseason," Seifert said. "If you're talking about four or five, then it's a big hurdle.
"They had a bad run of injuries, and the protection and run blocking were not good last year," Seifert said. "That's probably the No. 1 obstacle, and it's no surprise to them."
Although the Vikings went 8-8 and missed the playoffs this season, Seifert said Minnesota's mission should be able to compete for the 2017 NFC North title.
"That sound be the goal," Seifert said. "As for it being realistic, so much happens over the course of an offseason that nobody in the NFC North … should think the division title is ruled out."